Welcome to GreenSquare’s online newsletter for stakeholders and partners. With a renewed focus on building more homes to tackle the housing crisis, 2017 saw GreenSquare delivering new homes at sites across all three of our areas. We hope you enjoy reading more about this in our newsletter. Working with our partners to deliver more homes remains a key focus for us in 2018, as we work towards our goal of delivering 2,000 new homes by 2025. We look forward to working with you in the coming months. If you have any questions, or feedback, please email us.
GreenSquare joined forces with six other local housing providers early in 2017 to run a collaborative event, in a bid to solve Gloucestershire’s housing crisis.
The Let’s Talk Housing event was organised by the Gloucestershire Homes and Communities Partnership (GHCP), comprising GreenSquare, Cheltenham Borough Homes, Gloucester City Homes, Merlin, Severn Vale Housing, Stroud District Council, and Two Rivers Housing. With research suggesting that the county needs an extra 50,000 homes by 2030 to meet demand, the event provided a platform for senior figures from a range of sectors to debate the issues and seek possible solutions.
Howard Toplis, GreenSquare’s chief executive, said: “It’s clear that Gloucestershire, like many areas in the country, needs to find a lasting solution to solving the housing crisis. This event brought together the experience and expertise of professionals from a variety of sectors, to help us address the housing shortage, and shape Gloucestershire’s future housing growth. By working together we can examine how we can fund and deliver the Government’s ambitious target of building 50,000 new homes in the area by 2030.”
Presentations at Let’s Talk Housing put the local housing market in context, considered innovative housing models for older people, and looked at funding and delivery opportunities available to kick-start social housing developments.
Earlier that month (February), the National Housing Federation published its ‘Home Truths’ report, highlighting a huge gap between average incomes and house prices, and a major shortage of affordable homes to rent.
GreenSquare demonstrated that an affordable house was still out of reach for many by raising a toy house into the air at a development in Wiltshire, where its in-house construction company, GreenSquare Homes, was on site building 12 new affordable homes.
With wages below national average, high levels of rural unemployment, a shortage of affordable properties, and increasing food and energy prices, many people are still struggling to buy their own home.
However, local housing providers, like GreenSquare, are all working on programmes to build a range of homes to suit different needs, focusing on increasing the number of affordable properties in the county’s towns and rural areas.
We relaunched our Good Neighbour Awards in May 2017, to recognise people in the community who go ‘above and beyond’ to help make life easier for others.
During the months that followed, the nominations began flooding in, and in November we were delighted to announce our first winning residents – Anne Grieve, from Long Hanborough in Oxfordshire, and Pat wright from Chippenham in Wiltshire.
Anne was nominated by her neighbour Connie (pictured right). Connie said: “Anne is a great neighbour who takes care of and does a lot for people. She was very kind when I had a fall and took me to and from hospital. Nothing is too much trouble for her and she does things for people at a drop of a hat when anything is needed. Anne knows I live alone and at Christmas she cooked a Christmas dinner and invited me round. I feel incredibly lucky to have her in my life.”
Anne said: “It was such a shock! I don’t do things to expect anything back. I was just so thrilled to find out that I’d been nominated and I’ve certainly never won anything like this before. I’ve always been a carer and I just enjoy looking after people. I’m looking forward to spending my £100 voucher prize.”
Pat was nominated by her neighbour Nichola. She said: “What’s amazing about Pat is that she doesn’t even realise what a difference she makes. She’s not at all intrusive but makes me feel safe and secure. As well as that, there are a thousand little things she does – from checking on my dog when I’m working, to looking after parcels that have been delivered to me; she is always ready with a cheerful word.”
Pat said: “I’m completely honoured and shocked to even be nominated for the award. I haven’t got a secret. I like to ask questions without being nosey – it’s just how I am. I’m delighted. I am saving up my prize money for my holidays next year.”
Nominations are now open for the 2018 awards. Residents can nominate their neighbours for any reason, big or small, who they think deserve recognition. The awards are judged by a tenant panel.
GreenSquare completed 15 new homes in Corsham in December, bringing much needed affordable housing to the area, just in time for Christmas.
Nine houses have been built at Dickens Avenue, while six houses have been built at Queens Avenue in the town. The properties, designed by GreenSquare’s architects and built by GreenSquare’s construction team, are a mix of two and three-bedroom houses for affordable rent and shared ownership and outright sale.
Once the residents had moved in, Michelle Donelan, MP for Chippenham Constituency, which includes Corsham, joined GreenSquare’s chief executive Howard Toplis for a tour of the new homes.
While there, Howard and Michelle met Reg Washbourne, who has recently moved with his wife into one of the new two-bed houses. The couple previously lived in a bungalow that was demolished at the site and were moved to a decant property nearby, while a new house was being built for them.
Reg said: “While the building was going on, we lived in a flat just up the road, so I have been able to watch the whole process – from our old bungalow being demolished to this new house going up in its place. It’s been fascinating!
“Now that we have moved in to our new home, we couldn’t be more delighted. We’re just so happy and we are absolutely thrilled to be back in Dickens Avenue. I can’t thank GreenSquare enough for everything that they’ve done and I’m grateful that we were able to move back here. The house is simply outstanding.”
The properties have been built on three former garage sites, which were demolished along with two older properties, to make way for these new homes.
Howard Toplis said: “This is a fantastic example of where we are making the most of our land assets. By demolishing some of our older housing stock, and a number of unused garages, we have been able to make better use of the area and provide a larger number of more modern affordable homes at these sites.”
Work has started on phase two of GreenSquare’s major regeneration project at Culverhay in Cricklade, which will bring 109 new homes to the area.
Phase one of the project was completed in December and saw eight new homes built at Culverhay. Demolition is currently underway on phase two, with six bungalows being knocked down to make way for the construction of 14 new properties – five bungalows and nine houses.
Staff from GreenSquare, including Chief Executive Howard Toplis and MD for Development Barry Wood, joined appointed contractors E G Carter & Co Ltd to mark the start on site, and reinforce the company’s commitment to transforming the area, and building great new homes. They were also joined by representatives from Wiltshire Council and Cricklade Town Council.
Barry Wood said: “This second phase continues our journey to regenerate Culverhay and bring more high-quality homes to the area. The properties in phase one look fantastic, so we’re excited to see the new homes in phase two start to take shape. We will continue to work closely with residents and the town council on this project, to breathe new life into the neighbourhood to benefit both the residents of Culverhay, and the wider Cricklade community.”
Mr Mansfield has lived with his wife in Culverhay for the past 18 years, and has moved into one of the new bungalows from phase one. He said: “When we first heard that there were plans to regenerate the area, we weren’t sure what to expect. But once things started happening, we began to get more excited. We were absolutely thrilled to move into our new bungalow in time for Christmas and now we’re settled in and really happy with it.
“Lots of people living in Culverhay have been really impressed with the look of the new properties, so people are definitely looking forward to seeing what will happen as the regeneration progresses.”
Click here to view an interview with Mr Mansfield.
The wider regeneration project includes plans to demolish 65 older properties in total, replacing them with 109 energy efficient and comfortable homes, which will be a mixture of shared ownership, affordable rent, and outright sale.
To find out more about phase one at Culverhay, click here.
Watch drone footage showing the whole estate.
Representatives from GreenSquare, Lioncourt Homes and Stroud District Council celebrated the completion of 48 new homes in the village of King’s Stanley, near Stroud at the end of 2017.
The development, known as Cotswold View, was built by Lioncourt Homes and has a wide range of two, three, four and five-bedroom homes built to an award-winning standard and high specifications.
GreenSquare purchased 15 homes at the site from Lioncourt Homes, under a section 106 agreement, which requires a percentage of new developments to be available for low cost home ownership and affordable rent.
Howard Toplis, GreenSquare’s Chief Executive, said: “By working with Lioncourt Homes, we are pleased to be able to offer a variety of affordable housing options here at King’s Stanley. With eight of the properties here shared ownership, and seven for affordable rent, it means more families in the area are able to live in a home they can afford.”
Colin Cole, Chief Executive for Lioncourt Homes, said: “We are delighted with the success of Cotswold View in King’s Stanley. It is an idyllic village and there is already a great sense of community that exists within this new development. We are pleased to have worked closely with GreenSquare, who take such care with the placement of families to their new homes.”
Howard and Colin were joined by Stroud District Councillor for The Stanleys, Nigel Studdert-Kennedy, at the development, and new resident Nicola Brown, who cut the ribbon to declare the homes officially open.
Nicola described her three-bedroom house as ‘lovely’ saying: “I really like living here. They’re great houses and I was delighted to move in.”
For more information about Cotswold View, visit www.lioncourthomes.com.
GreenSquare celebrated the completion of 28 new contemporary apartments in Northway, Oxford in October, with an event for residents and staff involved with the project.
The development, known as Eleanor House, comprises apartments for sale, shared ownership and social rent in Northway, Oxford, and forms part of GreenSquare’s wider project to bring 108 new homes to the city.
Rachel Steers has recently moved into one of the two-bedroom apartments for rent with her son George. She said: “Before moving here in July, I was living with my father, so this is the first time I’ve had a home of my own. I’m really enjoying having my own space now and I feel very lucky to have such a lovely new apartment. I’ve loved living here so far and George likes it too.”
Designed by award-winning architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, the building was named in memory of Eleanor Thompson, a former GreenSquare board member, who sadly passed away in October 2014. Eleanor dedicated her time to working with charitable housing organisations in Oxfordshire. Eleanor’s daughters attended the opening event, and helped to declare the development officially open.
Eleanor House forms part of a wider project, which will see GreenSquare build 108 homes across Oxford. It has recently completed 40 apartments at Barns Road in Cowley, and work is currently underway on 21 one and two bedroom flats for affordable rent, at Westlands Drive in Northway. A second phase of building work will also see an additional 19 three and four bedroom houses built at Dora Carr Close.
Howard Toplis, GreenSquare’s chief executive, said: “Here at GreenSquare, we pride ourselves on creating great places where people want to live and Eleanor House is no exception.
“There is no doubt that the country is in the midst of a housing crisis, with an affordable home still out of reach for many. Oxford in particular has notably expensive house prices – in fact the average house price in the city is now 16 times more than the average income – so we are pleased to be able to offer a variety of housing options, including affordable homes, here in Northway and elsewhere in the city.”
Also at Dora Carr Close, GreenSquare has recently finished Northway Community Centre – a new and exciting community venue that has rooms available to hire for a wide variety of activities, events and classes. Click here to find out more.